July 4th I had the opportunity of going to a cancer survivor/fighter summer camp in Kalispell, Montana. It was a week long kayaking based getaway from the real world where I was able to get my bearings back and think about what I want to do with my future. It was one of the best trips I have ever had! I met a lot of new people and made some really good friends.
First Descents does a lot for cancer survivors/fighters that modern medicine cannot. I did not have to pay one penny for the week stay. My parents paid for the plane ticket but that was it. Even the plane ticket would have been paid for if money was an issue. First Descents is strictly funded by sponsors and donations. I agreed on being an ambassador for the camp by help raising money and maybe in the future even being a camp counselor. I hope this summer to have a softball game in which all the money raised will go to First Descents. Anyways, here is a summary of the days at camp:
I was picked up at the airport by two camp counselors who had the "nicknames" of Matteo and George. They told us everyone at camp would be givin a nickname at camp if they did not already have one from the year before. I was curious to see what would be givin to me. We picked up some more campers who were all talkative in the van. They were from all over the nation.
Finally we arrived at the cabin in which we would stay the next 6 nights having the time of our lives. At the cabin I met all the counselors and campers. Right away the counselors began asking me questions to help determine my nickname. As soon as I told them my name was Nick, they knew right away that my nickname was going to be "Nickname". Ha. So the entire camp I was called Nickname instead of Nick. I kinda liked it!
That night we were fitted for our dry suits (since the water temp was 45 degrees) and kayaks. I was really excited to get out on the river the next morning to try them out. The next morning we went out to Lake Macdonald where we learned paddle strokes and how to "wet exit" our kayaks if we ever flipped over. Because we had spray skirts on we were attached to the kayak skin tight so that water could not enter as we went through rapids. You had to learn how to stay calm and pull your spray skirt off. We then played a game of kayak polo which was fun. We then took off to the river where we learned how to enter and exit "eddies" which is where a section of non moving water is that is good for taking breaks and waiting for the rest of the group. It is really difficult going from moving water to non moving water. Your kayak has a tendency to want to flip over if you dont lean right. I admit I tipped over a couple times the first couple days.